Confusion, Catholicism, and my reconversion
#1
A few weeks ago, I left a comment in a thread in which I denounced what I called the self-righteousness that I've often encountered among many self-identified traditional Catholics and that this attitude was what kept me from fully identifying as a traditionalist myself. I received a reply that accused me of being the self-righteous one and that I was pushing myself away from traditional Catholicism by assuming the worst of traditionalists and making gross generalizations about them. 

I took this accusation of self-righteousness to heart. It shook me and got me thinking. After doing some soul searching, I can conclude that, while I am of course as susceptible to pride as anyone else, I don't think it was self-righteousness that motivated my comments. I don't think I'm necessarily any better or any more correct than traditionalists or anyone else for that matter. Rather, my thoughts, feelings, and opinions about traditionalists and Catholicism in general are motivated primarily by confusion. I don't know what to think or believe or where I stand in today's increasingly bifurcated Church.

I fell away from the Church as a teenager and only returned about three years ago. In that time, I've come to learn more about traditional Catholicism, the problems in the Church since Vatican II, Pope Francis's confusing and possibly detrimental pontificate, and so on. I wasn't completely unaware of all these things beforehand. Growing up, both my devout mother and grandmother would often talk about the failings of Vatican II, how we're not supposed to receive communion in the hand or imitate the hand gestures of the priest during the consecration and so on. Yet while my mother would bemoan post-Vatican II novelties like Eucharistic ministers and altar girls, we never attended the TLM or made any effort to go to any church other than our bland local parish with its standard NO mass. Even my ultra-pious fount of Church history grandmother goes primarily to the NO and always has, despite her diatribes against it and her support for FSSP. In short, while I was inculcated with criticism of Vatican II and the NO in my formative years, it never translated much into concrete action, and the NO is all I've ever known.

Upon my reconversion, I craved truth and beauty and, since my reconversion also coincided with a change of political persuasion from vaguely center-left to conservative, traditionalism. It was then that I began to research more about traditional Catholicism, read traditionalist writers, and interact with self-described "trads" online. Having witnessed the hideous modernist churches and vapid masses that comprised so much of the contemporary Catholic experience, I yearned for the splendor that tradition offers and found these aspirations mirrored in many traditionalists. Yet, in spite of all its flaws, I still haven't felt ready to abandon the NO. Like I said, it's all I've known and it's what drew me back to the faith. I do believe it can be done in a reverent way and when it is done right in a proper church, I do find it a deeply meaningful worship experience. 

To further complicate matters, I have encountered many of the "rad trads" that perhaps aren't representative of traditional Catholics as a whole but, based on my experience, do tend to dominate online. These are the people who give traditionalism a bad name and are why I made the above comments about self-righteousness. Even though I am still interested in learning about traditional Catholicism and want to have conversations with traditionalists, it did get very exhausting to be constantly inundated with the constant criticism, anger, and negativity on display among these self-described trads. So often, discussions were simply reduced to scoldings, lectures, and condemnations. Catholics who attend the NO were routinely treated with derision, and these trads acted as if they were the chosen few who had sole claim to the pure, absolute truth, which gave them full permission to wield it as a cudgel against their opponents. There was rarely any joy, hope, or mercy. And then there was all the Latin flexing and Ibero-monarchist LARPing to hate on America and "own the prots."

Of course, it would be unfair to say the trads were the only ones responsible for producing a less than charitable discussion environment. What baffled me even further was the sheer confusing horde of esoteric factions that I encountered. There were those who somehow wed their Catholicism with socialism. There were those, specifically a rather unlikable Italian journalist, who heaped scorn and derision upon the Catholic church in America for its supposedly backwards conservatism and over-preoccupation with culture war issues like abortion (which just goes to show that America gets hate from both sides of the Catholic political aisle). It was so hard to keep up with it all and to find the actual truth amid all the posturing and infighting. I had grown up thinking Catholicism was just one unified thing, but as I got further down the rabbit hole, it became clearer that this wasn't the case. Maybe the Church has never been entirely unified and, of course, it allows for some debate and discussion, but it seems that "Catholicism" means increasingly different things to different people.

I don't know what this means for me or where my place is amidst it all. I find that some, not all, traditional Catholics can have overly rigid views on hierarchy and sin and, in my opinion, over-emphasize worship. I'm not entirely convinced as of yet that worship is the most fundamental or important aspect of being Catholic or that I need the TLM to worship properly (though a recent experience at yet another Filipino English mass I had the misfortune of attending here in Japan did nudge me further toward that latter point - I will give further details in another thread). On the other hand, I stridently disagree with those liberal-minded Catholics who reduce the Church to a big social services organization and who conflate Catholic doctrine with whatever social justice activist issue is de rigueur at the moment. That said, I don't want to be a lukewarm wishy-washy "moderate," trying to straddle the fence between two extremes by whose nature can never meet and be unified. I just want to be Catholic.
Omnia et in omnibus Christus
[-] The following 2 users Like whitewashed_tomb's post:
  • Fionnchu, Markie Boy
Reply
#2
Truth Without Love is Still Truth - Fr. Mark Goring, CC



I was raised with NO and it was all I had ever known, I did not even know there was another way to receive communion. I'm not a Eucharistic Minister and Father once insisted during Mass that I come up and hand our Our Lord (After which I looked it up and resolved never to do it again even if insisted), I was also not happy to be told or implied or read I may have committed sacrilege when it was all I had ever known and I love Our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, I remember the Proverb, "Better to be slapped with the truth then kissed with a lie." which is an old Russian Proverb that is from the Bible somewhere, just can't remember where, in other words, just as Fr Mark Goring says, truth without love is still truth, when someone says something, first take into account whether there is any truth in it, any merit in it, take the truth to heart and leave the rest, e.g. lack of charity, poor presentation or whatever else.

In short, we know the Eucharist to be Our Lord Jesus Christ truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, and if He appeared before me I would be on my knees, why would we not want to receive in the most reverenced way possible? and they wonder why there is such little faith in the real presence which is at the very heart of our Catholic faith. If we do not behave as we believe, we will end up believing as we behave. Since there is no TLM where I live (And I have never had the opportunity to go to one in my life), I have to attend NO, but when doing so, I try to restore us much reverence and dignity back to Our Lord Jesus Christ's real presence as I can, therefore I receive only from the Priest, on the tongue and on one knee.

"For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Hope this helps and God Bless You
Jesus to St Faustina:

"For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart." (Diary, 1485)

"Remember My Passion, and if you do not believe My words, at least believe My wounds." (Diary, 379)

"It is in My Passion that you must seek light and strength." (Diary, 654)
[-] The following 2 users Like josh987654321's post:
  • Fionnchu, jovan66102
Reply
#3
Unfortunately, due to our fallen nature, the common response to sin is more sin.
Reply
#4
What kept me away for a long time from exploring the Latin Mass and then identifying as a traditionalist (after I had started going) was precisely the "holier-than-thou" attitude of the traditionalists around me. One of the vivid memories I have from when I was a diocesan seminarian was a self-styled traditionalist, who was also in seminary with me, ranting about how the church music I liked at the time was trash. Yet as I later found out, this same seminarian was having sexual relations with a woman! Not infrequently, he would have too much alcohol at social gatherings that the seminarians were invited to. He also used a lot of profanity, which is certainly inappropriate for a seminarian.

Despite all that, he was still right about the music! Yet the impression of disgust that his ugly character left in me hardened my heart to considering the truth of his comments.

It's true that truth is truth, yet we aren't calculators. It's not as simple as input-output. Prudence is the virtue that considers and chooses the best means to the proper end. Zeal that isn't directed by prudence is a vice, specifically false zeal. Out of love for the truth, we may nevertheless scorn our neighbor, yet the Truth demands that we love our neighbor, and the truth is for the sake of our salvation as well as our neighbor's. A false zeal can be terribly damaging and dangerous, depending on its extent.

If this seminarian had first taken the time to understand why I could love bad music and then show me with patience why this music was not fitting for liturgy, he could have presented that aspect of the traditional faith in a winsome manner that is rare to find. In fact, the problem was that he didn't realize that I loved that music not for its liturgical qualities but its psychological qualities.

The anonymity built into the internet (at least for the average user) is apt to foster a mob mentality. Certainly much of what is said online would never be said to a person's face. The disconnect makes it even harder to properly assess a person's situation as well as the best means to help him. It's not infrequent that a person who is new to tradition upon asking a simple question is bombarded with technical details by well-meaning traditionalists. What is a simple question to the person was the unknowing opening of Pandora's box, and before you know it, people are scrutinizing the person's question to incredible extents and then making all sorts of assumptions about the person's character.

Another problem that comes with standardized literacy and the internet is that all information is placed on an equal playing field. It is impossible without additional guidance and foreknowledge to discern the wheat from the chaff. Most people think reading Wikipedia is fine, and most of the time it is, except when it isn't. How would you know when it isn't? Well, you would already be past the point of needing to read a Wikipedia article. Where do you find that information? Good luck...

The best way to develop a proper Catholic mindset is to read the writings of the pre-internet era, the time-tested classics of Catholic devotion and spirituality and the basic catechisms. This is the first requisite.
[-] The following 2 users Like piscis's post:
  • antiquarian, whitewashed_tomb
Reply
#5
(10-08-2019, 03:20 AM)whitewashed_tomb Wrote: I'm not entirely convinced as of yet that worship is the most fundamental or important aspect of being Catholic or that I need the TLM to worship properly (though a recent experience at yet another Filipino English mass I had the misfortune of attending here in Japan did nudge me further toward that latter point - I will give further details in another thread).
It may not be the most fundamental or important aspect, but it is vital, because 'lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi', the law of prayer determines the law of belief, which determines the law of life. In other words, how we worship, has a powerful influence on what we believe, which determines how we live.

As a glaring example, the NO, with cafeteria line Communion in the hand, has led to over two thirds of American Catholics either not knowing or disagreeing with the Dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and I would argue that that sort of thing has a direct effect on the fact that NO 'Catholics' are contracepting themselves out of existence.

One does not have to attend the TLM to be a Trad, but it makes it much easier. Being a Trad is essentially believing and practicing the Catholic Faith as it was believed and practiced by the Saints, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the vast majority of Catholics who ever lived before the Council.

Personally, since I no longer drive, I can't regularly attend the TLM. But I still believe and practice 'the Faith once delivered to the saints' (St Jude 1:3), 'that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all'. (St Vincent of Lerins)
Jovan-Marya of the Immaculate Conception Weismiller, T.O.Carm.

Vive le Christ-roi! Vive le roi, Louis XX!
Deum timete, regem honorificate.
Kansan by birth! Albertan by choice! Jayhawk by the Grace of God!
  “Qui me amat, amet et canem meum. (Who loves me will love my dog also.)” 
St Bernard of Clairvaux

My Blog 'Musings of an Old Curmudgeon'


[-] The following 3 users Like jovan66102's post:
  • Augustinian, piscis, whitewashed_tomb
Reply
#6
When I came back to the Church in 2014, I had a sense that the Diocesan Churches were not “Catholic enough”, yet I remained faithful to the Church.
Around December 2017 I broke away and attended some independent, schismatic Masses.

If there’s anything anyone reading this takes away from my post: never, never, never do that.
God does not approve of Sacraments outside the government of the Church.
God does not approve of us establishing new governments outside the Church.
Even if the independent priest seems orthodox and sincere: you reject trust in God’s Providence when you abandon His Bride. Christ promised to remain with His Church.
We can either trust Him, or decide that He must have meant something else (which is ridiculous).

The Novus Ordo Mass can be offered well.
I think if it were universally offered with more reverence, and silent contemplation, it wouldn’t pose as much of a problem for people.
It’s the sense of “casualness” so frequently present that I think drives people away.

In any event, if there’s anything to take away: stay in the Church. 
Schism is a very fleshly response to conflict in the Church (viz. pride).
[-] The following 2 users Like FultonFan's post:
  • jovan66102, whitewashed_tomb
Reply
#7
(10-08-2019, 09:29 PM)FultonFan Wrote: The Novus Ordo Mass can be offered well.
I think if it were universally offered with more reverence, and silent contemplation, it wouldn’t pose as much of a problem for people.
It’s the sense of “casualness” so frequently present that I think drives people away.

Yes, the lack of standardization among NO masses is extremely frustrating. You can have a decent mass at one church and then get a totally different, awful experience at another church or even at a mass at a different time at the same church. If only this could be rectified and all NO masses were reverent and solemn, that would solve a lot of problems. Unfortunately, this is one drawback of the decentralization and "horizontality" that came after Vatican II. Putting the laypeople in charge of aspects of the mass will yield a variety of fruits of varying quality. That's a major selling point of the TLM, that wherever you go throughout the world, you will always experience the same mass and you know what to expect.
Omnia et in omnibus Christus
[-] The following 1 user Likes whitewashed_tomb's post:
  • jovan66102
Reply
#8
(10-09-2019, 12:41 AM)whitewashed_tomb Wrote: Yes, the lack of standardization among NO masses is extremely frustrating. You can have a decent mass at one church and then get a totally different, awful experience at another church or even at a mass at a different time at the same church. If only this could be rectified and all NO masses were reverent and solemn, that would solve a lot of problems.

Move to the Diocese of Lincoln! We can use more Catholics. And Holy Mass is celebrated here, in every Parish and at every Mass, reverently, strictly according to the rubrics, with no 'girl altar boys' or little old blue haired lady EMHCs. If they're not, I wouldn't want to be the Priest getting the phone call from our Bishop!

But, seriously, I agree with your point. We're just lucky in Lincoln, that ever since the Council, we've had conservative, truly Catholic Bishops.
Jovan-Marya of the Immaculate Conception Weismiller, T.O.Carm.

Vive le Christ-roi! Vive le roi, Louis XX!
Deum timete, regem honorificate.
Kansan by birth! Albertan by choice! Jayhawk by the Grace of God!
  “Qui me amat, amet et canem meum. (Who loves me will love my dog also.)” 
St Bernard of Clairvaux

My Blog 'Musings of an Old Curmudgeon'


Reply
#9
(10-08-2019, 03:20 AM)whitewashed_tomb Wrote: Growing up, both my devout mother and grandmother would often talk about the failings of Vatican II, how we're not supposed to receive communion in the hand or imitate the hand gestures of the priest during the consecration and so on...In short, while I was inculcated with criticism of Vatican II and the NO in my formative years, it never translated much into concrete action, and the NO is all I've ever known.

Upon my reconversion, I craved truth and beauty and, since my reconversion also coincided with a change of political persuasion from vaguely center-left to conservative, traditionalism.

I don't know what this means for me or where my place is amidst it all.

Lots I share with WT here...what occurs to me as a new commenter is that all of us raised in the first burst of NO enthusiasm with only the post-1970 liturgy is that we never knew any other licit option. My jr. high years in the era when we were raised to glory in Godspell, JC Superstar and the burgeoning charismatic movement meant that we too young to have experienced the old ways consciously were scared off from the SSPX. My best friend's family ca.1973 on if not earlier attended their Arcadia (suburb of Los Angeles) chapel, I reckon among the first Tridentine outposts in the U.S. He and I attended Catholic school in our neighboring archdiocesan parish as there was no trad option for him back then. He and siblings however had to go to public h.s. as no Catholic h.s. was judged permissible, a twist I found ironic if logical. But we parishioners were firmly catechized that those nearby Latin Massgoers were outlaws at best and that it was impossible to turn our backs on the progress of the post-conciliar juggernaut. So my family and everyone who was 'loyally' Catholic had to do as we were told. Obey Pope Paul VI. The IHM nuns in revolt by 1970 had nearly all abandoned our parish convent; we still had fealty to the Cardinal, priests, lay teachers, youth ministers, and our CCD teachers. Where else would we have gone? 

So don't be too hard on those of us indoctrinated before the 'Pope's Children' who at least had some faint glimmer under Woltywa and Ratzinger of alternatives to felt banners and mandatory singalongs. I get the sense as a former lurker here as I continue to be at other sites that often traditionalist folks are either converts or crad!e Catholics lucky enough in certain cases to have been able to dive into the restored EF years ago. Contrasting to those of us either faithful or reverts who had or have no idea that the EF has been allowed. I had only a vague awareness that Pope B had made gestures a ways back now to the SSPX as this was never made common knowledge to me or anyone else I knew who attended the NO. I only learned of the FSSP and of permitted EF masses in diocesan parishes rather recently. If I had not reconnected with an old friend at a Fraternity parish, I'd still suffer ignorance.

Looking up insights as to a common matter that in my youth was downplayed as not at all grievous but which traditional adherents lambaste and condemn all who consent, last night the extreme severity, lack of charity for those with a less lenient attitude, and those of us brought up in the 1970s and 80s Church to regard in contemporary contexts hit home hard for me. I read their dismissive, waspish comments toward anyone who suggested less rigor and more compassion through my earlier eyes as a matter which would trouble frankly near!y none but the scrupulous. And as on a related topic, how relentlessly those who bitterly lashed out at those guilty like me judged the likes.of fallible me weak at best and condemned at worst troubled me. Both of these predicaments that had more than one thoughtful, nuanced, and informed contemporary Catholic solution from the theological authorities are what I live firsthand. Yet for the first, few in the discussion offered anything but assurances of the tortures of the doomed, and for the second the same. And none of those online who rushed to harsh judgement on #2 had been in my sorry shoes.

On both subjects, I'd consulted priests or confessors, including in case #2 a canon lawyer. But none of those weighing in within the online fora would have accepted these clerical experts. My liberal friends thus wonder if traditional Catholic advocates do not resemble their opposites, those who in private speculation vowed to, say, not follow 'Rome' but insisted they knew better. I concur with the trad counterargument, but if it's made with none but a severe, grim, and apocalyptic tone, few will pay heed outside the walls set up to rally the saving remnant. (Which apropos we as confirmation students ca. 1975 were warned by Sister Eileen would happen...she told us that by the time we grew up, hard as it was to then believe, that those true to Catholicism would dwindle.)

Similar folks may wonder why the Sacred Heart of Jesus' kingship isn't being instituted tomorrow at dawn. Blame weak sinners like me failing to get with that stern program. I guess.a sense of arch humor and this yours truly Irishman's nod and a wink when the.morals police appear remain absent from the integriste's new otherworldly order. Must we be po-faced every damn moment?

I estimate as a solo revert isolated from anyone I know in my own attendance at my newly established TLM that the inevitable cool kids who built the clubhouse first off were in on the underground band before they signed to the major label mentality holds. The trads.who had the luck by proximity to, say, Lincoln NE heard the local talent long before those of us out West! That doesn't diminish the rest of us to bandwagon jumping status left in the V2 angel dust. We.weren't first in line but we're still seeking admission.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Fionnchu's post:
  • whitewashed_tomb
Reply
#10
(10-08-2019, 08:44 PM)piscis Wrote: It's true that truth is truth, yet we aren't calculators. It's not as simple as input-output. Prudence is the virtue that considers and chooses the best means to the proper end. Zeal that isn't directed by prudence is a vice, specifically false zeal. Out of love for the truth, we may nevertheless scorn our neighbor, yet the Truth demands that we love our neighbor, and the truth is for the sake of our salvation as well as our neighbor's. A false zeal can be terribly damaging and dangerous, depending on its extent.
My reconversion was heavily influenced by an exchange with a Jesuit who is most decidedly not a traditionalist and some may even consider a heretic. He would occasionally visit my parish growing up, and he espoused the typical modernist Jesuit views (Satan doesn't exist, the miracle of the loaves and fishes was not an actual miracle but merely people sharing, etc.). Still, as a kid, there was something about him that I really liked and I was always happy to attend his masses. With his long white hair and beard, thick Australian brogue, and avuncular professor demeanor, he was like Gandalf or some other wise wizard.

During my period of apostasy, I contacted him just to see how he was doing and to thank him for being such an influential person in my life. I mentioned that I had left the Church and he replied with words of encouragement something along these lines: "Remember that God loves you, that he became a very ordinary one of us out of the sheerest esteem for mankind, and that the Eucharist is nourishment enough and mystery enough." Those words pierced my heart and stuck with me. I would often reflect on them, and then, some years later, I finally came back to the Church because of the love for the Incarnation and the Eucharist that these words helped to inspire within me.

Of course, now that I've reconverted and have a deeper and more mature understanding of the faith than I did as a kid, I would adamantly disagree with this priest on many of his views. In fact, I do disagree with him, yet I do not speak ill of him. I owe him a debt of gratitude. He may be wrong in his theology, even heretically so, but he helped me, nonetheless. He didn't have to. If he were so heretical and bad, he could have simply told me that I was as good outside the Church as in it. But he didn't. He gave me words of encouragement that, though they may have been tinged with his wayward theology (notably calling Jesus "very ordinary" which could be a shot at his divinity a la Pope Francis), nevertheless helped to rekindle my love and awe for Christ.

I sincerely thank this Jesuit. I don't know if he is still alive but I hope he's doing well and I pray for him, not out of a sense of smug self-righteousness because his theology is flawed, but out of humility and gratitude for the charity he showed me when he didn't have to. It just goes to show that God's love can work through people and circumstances in which it seems He may not be wholly present or not there at all. It gives me hope and and fills with me with gratitude in these dark, confusing times.

(Edit: formatting)
Omnia et in omnibus Christus
[-] The following 2 users Like whitewashed_tomb's post:
  • Fionnchu, piscis
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)